Friday, April 13, 2012


When I was a little girl, sometimes I would stay up late and watch scary things I shouldn't be watching on my tiny black and white portable TV.

I'd turn the volume way down low, trying hard not to wake up my mum and dad.

It was on one of those late night TV shows that I first encountered what became an enduring fixation I've had for as long as I can remember.

The Black Dahlia Murder.

I'm completely obsessed with it.

I've read the books, seen the documentaries, bought a CD of the declassified FBI files, even watched movies very loosely inspired by it, like Deceiver starring Tim Roth and Renée Zellweger.



As if it was an inanimate object that did not involve flesh nor bone nor blood.

The Black Dahlia – a mysterious alias, a book, a movie, a rock band, a kick-ass t-shirt, an obsession.


But it had a victim.

Her name was Elizabeth Short.

She wasn't just a Hollywood lush or a maybe prostitute.

She was a daughter.

She was a sister.

She was loved.

She was just 22 years old when a psychopath cut her in two and left the pieces of her ruined body in a vacant lot near Hollywood.

And a legend was born that day in January 1947, the same day as Beth Short died.

The Black Dahlia Murder has inspired, haunted, obsessed writers and film makers for decades. I am one of them.

In my first novel, Vampire Vintage Book One : Belladonna in Hollywood my main character Belladonna Busto is hugely influenced by Elizabeth Short. Immensely. Elizabeth Short (or girls who look like her,) seems to appear in a lot of my writing. I don't do this consciously, but eventually I recognize it during the writing of the piece. She even makes a fleeting appearance in Vampire Vintage and she's going to feature extensively as a character in one of the later installments of the series. And I just know I have to write a fiction book about her some day. I know I will. She's in my psyche.

There's much myth and speculation that surrounds the life as well as the death of Elizabeth Short, AKA The Black Dahlia, from rumors of BDSM movies to prostitution to hermaphrodism.

But we will never know the full story of her life or her death. But we'll continue to be fascinated by her and her vicious, brutal murder.

We will never know if she was aware of what was happening to her. We will never know if she was conscious when her killer bisected her body. If she was, how long did she endure? We will never know if he sliced through the sides of her mouth and gave her that near ear-to-ear gory grin before he cut her in two.

We will never know any of these things.

But we will always wonder about them. We will always ponder these questions, even if we don't want to acknowledge our own ghoulishness, even to ourselves sometimes.

And we will always be fascinated and repulsed by the spectacular murder of the young woman they called The Black Dahlia.

My personal favorite book on this subject is John Gilmore's SEVERED : The True Story of the Black Dahlia. Gilmore's painstaking research and obsession rises off the page to meet you.

Reading this book for the first time gave me a sense of Elizabeth Short as a person and not just a dark and mysterious alias or a raven haired beauty in a faded photograph. She became real to me instead of just being a horror story on late night TV.

Do you have a Black Dahlia fixation like I do? What fascinates and compels you the most about the case?

I wrote this vignette about my obsession with The Black Dahlia Murder. Enjoy.

- Alex.

A Vignette by Alex Severin.

I am the Black Dahlia. I'm dying now but I know that I will live forever in hearts and minds and story lines.

I can see the future. I can see worldwide fame, my notoriety. I will be the subject of books, books written about the manner in which I am now dying. I can see learned men will talk about me in years to come. There will be motion pictures about me, about my life and about my death.

I always new that I would be famous.

But this is not what I had in mind.

Champagne and limousines.

Red carpets and movies stars.

Screen tests and premieres and stardom.

That's what my life should have been, not this, this dirt and blood and sex and death.


Newspaper sales.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Hollywood beauty brutally slain!

Black and white photographs of me looking pretty, looking like the movie starlet I could have been.

Should have been.


That's what they always say about the ones like me.

I am the Black Dahlia and I have no will left to move even if I had the strength.

From where I am right now there is no way back to normal.

I have to die.

I have to die to become legend, to become myth.

I am bound hand and foot in a dirty bathtub. I can feel the cold chrome of the faucet on my wrists and a trickle of rusty water drip, drip, dripping, down my arm.

I can only imagine what he's going to do to me.


Beneath me.

A space between them.


I am the Black Dahlia, the one who will be immortalized in the sensationalist headlines that will follow the discovery of my body. I've read the lurid details of murders before, many times. Nobody ever thinks they will be the victim that others will revel in reading about.

But the gutter press could never, ever capture this horror, the horror that has turned my veins to ice as I realize what he's going to do to me.

And still I cannot move.

I cannot struggle.

I cannot even scream for my throat is full of blood cascading down from my ruined mouth. He sliced it – almost ear to ear and with the keenest blade – and I can only wonder how horrific I look at this moment. I'm glad I will not live to see it. I would be a monster.


Sliver of light glints off the surface.




Oh, God, please let me die now! Please don't let me feel it! Please don't let me feel it!

I wish that I could talk to him, my murderer. Tell him not to do this. Tell him that I don't deserve this.

I wish I could move to let him know that I am still alive and I know what he's going to do and I don't want him to, I don't want to feel it, don't want to be cut in half and still be alive and know what he's doing and feel it, feel it, feel it, feel the blade sawing through my flesh and then reaching my spine, separating my vertebrae, making me a legend.

I am the Black Dahlia and I am dead now.

I am serene.

I no longer suffer the pain of my torture.

I lie here, morning dew settling on my skin, awaiting my discovery, my infamy, and the birth of a million obsessions, a million more stories. I lie here, alabaster and bloodless like a broken sculpture among the grass and weeds.

I am the Black Dahlia and I know you will hear my name.